HC Deb 13 July 1999 vol 335 c178W
Dr. Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) of 5 July 1999,Official Report, column 623, if he will describe the special procedures for the All-Work test that apply to claimants with mental health problems. [90819]

Mr. Bayley

Where the medical condition that has caused the incapacity for work relates to a mental disease or disablement, further information is sought from the General Practitioner or psychiatric specialist in order to establish whether the condition is severe enough to justify exemption from the All-Work Test. If this is not the case, or where the position is unclear, a questionnaire will be issued to allow the claimant an opportunity to describe the effect of any physical disabilities and also the general effect of any mental problems they have. Unless it is clear from the questionnaire that the person satisfies the All-Work Test, a medical examination will be carried out. The examination will be offered even where the claimant does not respond to the questionnaire, in order to give people with mental conditions every opportunity to be fully assessed for benefit purposes. This arrangement is different from that for people without mental conditions, who are disallowed benefit if they do not return the questionnaire.

All doctors undertaking examinations meet minimum recruitment standards which must include at least three years broadly based post-registration experience. Most have a background in general medical practice but many will also have additional experience and qualifications in relevant specialities such as occupational medicine and psychiatry. The stringent approval process requires them to undergo training and assessment. This ensures that they have the special skills and knowledge to fulfil their role in providing good quality expert advice to enable a decision on benefit entitlement to be made.